I woke up Thursday morning feeling like I had run a couple marathons in my sleep. Fatigue doesn't even begin to describe it. I felt worse as the day went on. My tonsils were swollen. Invisible men with hammers were pounding on my head. All I wanted was to lie down and take a nap. I was downright cranky. Was it the rainy weather? Stress? Had to be. There's no way I could be sick!
The first stage is denial. It's always denial.
The sore throat hit on Friday. It got worse every minute, until I woke up Saturday morning feeling like I was breathing fire and razors and in so much pain I had to communicate with James via sign language. And we don't even know sign language. It's just allergies, right? Is it because we slept with the window open? Or is it something more serious like sudden stage 4 cancer?
There's no way I'm sick. I don't get sick.
The sore throat slowly subsided as the congestion moved in. By the end of the day, I couldn't breathe through my nose and I felt like I was drowning in my own mucous. I could feel the cold virus infecting every single healthy cell until it took over my entire body, forcing me to flop my diseased self down on the couch and binge watch season 1 of Mercy Street. Those poor, injured Civil War soldiers. I almost understood their misery.
The second stage is panic.
I can't be sick! Doesn't this virus understand I have a child to take care of? What if she gets sick, too? It is not scientifically possible for her to not get sick. I'm the only one home taking care of her right now. It's one thing to be sick, but to also have to take care of a sick child while sick? It can't be legal. There's probably a country song written about it.
The third stage? Anger.
I am furious and I resent this and there will be hell to pay. Where did I get this? Was it my friend's house? The library? The grocery store? I spend the afternoon blowing my nose and mentally retracing my steps and calculating the incubation period. I will pinpoint the very second this virus had the nerve to infect me, and I will track down the evil villain who went into public while infected. And I will yank his or her hair until he or she begs for mercy. It's a hate crime and VENGEANCE IS MINE.
The fourth stage is unwilling acceptance.
I wear my pajamas all day long. I drink pot after pot of tea. I remind everyone around me and far away that you guys, I'm really sick. I snuggle with the Kleenex box and stand in the bathroom, clad in my pink old navy pajama shorts taking shots of NyQuil off the bathroom counter like a college kid in a bar. I walk around with bedhead, moaning and groaning, sniffling and sneezing. I cough so hard that in the words of my dear friend Ferris Bueller, it feels like I'm barfing up a lung. "But I'm sick!" becomes my new mantra. People talk about the dreaded man cold, but I think I'm giving it a run for its money. It's just that I feel so awful and even though it's no big deal, it feels like this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. What did I do to deserve this? I eat spinach and berries, for crying out loud. What does it feel like to be healthy? I've already forgotten. I know a cold only lasts about a week, but a week in cold time is 5 years in healthy time. I feel like a prisoner in my own, infected body. My nose feels like it's the size of a house and I fantasize about chainsawing it off. It's 2016--why haven't we developed a cure for this yet? How long am I expected to go on like this?
It's a cruel world we live in.